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The Kobo Glo

A photo of the Kobo Glo e-reader

On Monday I got a Kobo Glo. For a while I avoided getting a big brand ereader, preferring to stay content with my old Binatone as long as possible. But when you want to be able to read books that don’t always have a printed counterpart (or are out of print), converting books to text files every time becomes a drag. So I looked at my ereader decision as an investment; an investment in my reading and blogging.

I’m still not wildly keen about ebooks, preferring physical books. I’ll mostly be using my Kobo for review copies and classics. Nevertheless I do not hate ebooks; I love the way they have made the industry more accessible for self-published authors. And as I think of all the money a little-known self-published author would end up spending on postage, it’s nice to know they can now market their books for free. Ebooks have also given those who have trouble holding physical books a similar alternative.

My choice, as I saw it, was between the Nook and Kobo Glo. I don’t like the way Kindle limits the reader to Amazon and whilst I do shop there sometimes, the news about Goodreads did sway me a lot. The Kobo has always appealed to me, I don’t really know why, but recently I’ve been impressed by what I’m hearing of their support of indie stores. And the Nook was the best alternative to the Waterstones ereader that was hoped for.

What sold the Kobo to me was the range of file formats. It accepts epubs, pdfs, and mobi – exactly what I was looking for. And whilst I’m generally a fan of physical buttons on devices, for some reason I wasn’t particular about them here. I went for the Glo because of the e-ink screen (I love reading outdoors), I wanted a device that was solely for reading (no distractions), and as for the light it was that added extra I could use if needed. However, before it appears as though I’m a gushing fan girl for Kobo, here are two lists of my experiences so far.

What I like:
  • It feels nice – the border and the screen. Like some kind of plastic suede.
  • The screen doesn’t turn off on shut down – first I didn’t like this, but it makes it feel more like a real book. What basically happens is the cover of your current read is displayed with the percentage you’ve read of it. This may be an issue if you don’t want others to see what you’re reading.
  • The ways you can change font size etcetera, are varied enough. Same with the light.
  • The ability to include the “true” page numbers if the file has them (sometimes it surprises you as they might have been invisible in other applications).
  • The screen is sharp.
  • There’s a decent 2GB of onboard memory and the MicroSD slot takes 32GB cards.
  • The WiFi has a stronger signal than my desktop computer.
What I dislike:
  • It’s very slow – everything except page flips takes time. Updating font settings takes about 10 seconds per tiny change, and you’d think your choice of book hadn’t been registered for the time it takes to open it.
  • It isn’t sensitive enough when you try to flick the page, yet if you walk around with it (without touching the screen) you can find the pages have flipped themselves.
  • The setup was a pain.
  • It appears to read some text weirdly – checking the file in Adobe Digital Editions and the Kindle application, it was fine, but Kobo changed “I knew” to “swe 7ew”.
  • Annotations are a waste of time – due to the slowness you have to type at snail’s pace and that’s just not reasonable.
  • Highlighting is difficult.
  • The “help” section isn’t a help section.

Overall it’s okay, and I’m glad I got it, but it could really do with some speed. The cheap almost primitive Binatone is a lot faster. The learning curve was a few hours. The battery looks like it will last a good few or even several books, though I’m not sure how that might change when I’m using the light. It came with a couple of free books, or at least appeared to (I don’t remember deleting them but they aren’t there any more).

I do think this is the right ereader for me, everything considered, as it does include the features that were important. But time will of course tell. For now, despite the issues, I am happy with it. Oh, and if you’re wondering what book I was reading, it was Jessa Russo’s Ever.

Do you have an ereader? If so, what features were you looking for that helped you make your decision?



April 5, 2013, 2:25 am

I recently bought my very first e-reader. I’m still getting the hang of it but it’s pretty handy ;) I hope you enjoy your Kobo!!

jenn aka the picky girl

April 5, 2013, 3:09 am

Ooh, I love tech, so my first thought was: SO pretty!

I have the Nook Color and really like it. I go through phases where I use it a lot and times where I rarely do.


April 5, 2013, 3:34 am

I thought I would love eReaders, but I don’t. I have two Kindles and a Sony Touch, plus an iPad. I like the iPad best, because it handles PDFs well and the page turn is instantaneous and it’s easy to add annotations. However, my eyes don’t like the screen glare.

I got a Kindle because Amazon is the only viable option to buy eBooks in Australia. Local publishers were slow to get into the eBook market, and their prices are still ridiculously high. The Kindle Touch was a total disappointment. I like the older model better. Tapping the screen does nothing: you really have to poke it! I wanted to try the Sony because it was one of the first touch-screen eReaders out, but it’s slow and navigation is annoying.

I think eReaders have their place, for people who can’t hold books or need a large font, for travellers, commuters, or for people who can’t afford to buy paper copies of classics, and for out of print books, but I just don’t like the current e-ink eReaders at all. I hope the technology gets a boost soon. I really don’t like not being able to page back and forth easily, and the lack of page numbers is so annoying. The progress bar just sits there and mocks me!

I hope your Kobo grows on you.

Jo @ Booklover Book Reviews

April 5, 2013, 5:30 am

I have an old Nook, and an old Kindle, but ever since I got my iPad I have not read on either. The only drawback of the iPad for me though is the internet browsing and blog updating capability on the same device can distract me from reading sometimes.

I really like Kobobooks though – probably buy more of my ebooks from them than Amazon these days. I find Kobobooks stocks many more Australian titles (I’m an Aussie).


April 5, 2013, 5:48 am

I have a kindle because of the money, it is the cheapest. I have to say I didn’t know about the thing that doesn’t allow you to read in other ereader or computer until I had it, but I really don’t care about it, because what I really do is to read it on my kindle.
For me it works very good.

And you know I also love it when I read in English: you have a dictionary and you have the definition of any word you put the arrow on. Fantastic.

I also love the kindle free books: I download a lot of them from amazon in English :)

And I love ebooks, I’m a big fan.


April 5, 2013, 6:13 am

I’ve got a Sony Reader (my second, though technically I traded in the first for this upgrade) and it’s pretty much perfect for me. Low maintenance, great battery, relatively fast (somewhat slowed down by the amount of files I have on the SD card, but not anywhere that matters), convenient internet access and no formatting problems. Also no Amazon sticky-fingers policy.

I chose Sony (both times) because I don’t pay for eBooks. This way, I can download free eBooks with incredible ease, I can check books out of my local library with even more ease, and I can download almost any PDF straight to the device without second thought. It’s not the best for non-text PDFs, but overall it’s excellent – sharp screen, quick page-flips, easy accessibility. The main problem with Sony is their rather abysmal library (which doesn’t enable editing metadata and is rather clunky to use) and their less-than-stellar eBookstore. But since I don’t use the eBookstore and I tend to use Calibre for my eBook management, it ends up mostly irrelevant.

eBooks, for me, will never replace physical books. It’s not going to happen. They’re a supplement, kind of in the way that library books supplement owned books. There are books I can’t acquire or access in physical formats (out-of-print, public domain novels, for example), or even new releases that don’t reach my neck of the woods – not a huge percentage of my reading, but enough to justify still owning an eReader.

Laurie C

April 5, 2013, 11:38 am

I have a Nook Color, which I got as a gift a few years ago. I use it for maybe a book a month, not exclusively. It doesn’t work with our home wifi without changing settings on the network (even though everything else family and guests own does work) so that’s the most annoying thing about it. Also, it’s a little heavier than I would like. My next ereader (if not an iPad mini) will be less of a tablet wannabe, I think.


April 5, 2013, 11:41 am

Yay ereader, I love them. I found (when I got my Kindle) that I read physical books only marginally less than before. There is something about having an actual copy you can hold that is more appealing.

I was thinking, all printed books should come with an ebook version for free. I love having an actual book but they can be difficult to carry around.

Tanya Patrice

April 5, 2013, 4:04 pm

Ack – I’m the last no-eReader hold out!!! Lol – hope you enjoy it though :-)

Audra (Unabridged Chick)

April 5, 2013, 5:03 pm

I’m a slavish Sony Reader fangirl — I adore it. It converted me to ebooks and about 25% of my reading is now on it, if not more (esp as publishers like sending e-ARCs rather than print copies these days). If I get a new reader, I suspect it’ll be a Kobo — it seems to be gaining where Reader isn’t. :( Hope you enjoy yours — it’s pretty nice having 300 books at your fingertips…!


April 5, 2013, 8:45 pm

I much prefer paper books, but I have a Sony eReader that I’m happy with too. I read (free) Kindle books on my Kindle App on the tablet, which works fine.


April 5, 2013, 10:37 pm

Thanks for the review! As a librarian I deal a lot with people needing help deciding what ereader to buy or how to work the one they already have. I feel the same way about ebooks that you do.
I have a Kindle Fire and an iPad – I prefer the iPad, but it is bulky and heavy. Overall, I mostly read paper and very much love it.
Congrats on your blog anniversary!


April 6, 2013, 1:13 pm

Ooo I’ve been intrigued about the Kobo Glo since the adverts came on the TV. I have a Kindle which was a Christmas present in 2011. I wanted it because it was a decent price, simple to use and set up, and I wanted the e-ink screen. Although I am now gutted they do devices with an optional light now! However I still love my Kindle as it has been great for reading review copies and free classics. Happy e-reading!


April 6, 2013, 9:17 pm

I have a Kobo too. I like it but don’t use it much. I have a lot of free or cheap ebooks on it. I use it mostly for reading galleys from Netgalley.


April 7, 2013, 8:56 pm

I don’t use my e-reader very often because I have so many paper books around the house (hundreds) but I find myself wishing more and more that I was reading with the kindle rather than the actual book, especially with my growing midsection and the uncomfortable reading positions I’m subjected to. ;) I hope you continue to enjoy the Kobo! I don’t know much about it. I only have mine because my coworker was selling it brand new for very inexpensive. Otherwise I think I might have gone with the Nook or at least something that is touch screen. Enjoy!!!


April 8, 2013, 9:11 am

Thank you so much for your in-depth review. I really really need a new ereader, but the choice is tough! I am currently deciding between the Kobo Glo and a Kindle. The thing is: buying ebooks is a pain in the Netherlands. The Kobo is attached to a Dutch chainstore which charges 15 euros on average per book. Amazon is much cheaper, even if their books are still way overprized for the EU market compared to what they charge US and UK people (esp. when they have sales that are not available in this area it gets really annoying to see people speak of 2.99 books when it’s 8.99 for me). So yes, basically, I’d love for something to actually change before I decide. BUt then again, I’d like a reader that can actually handle my PDFs etc (which is a pain on my current and very outdated sony pocket reader).

Literary Feline

April 10, 2013, 8:52 pm

I’ve heard great things about the Kobo brand and hope you enjoy your e-reader! I have both a Kindle and a Nook, although I tend to use my Kindle more. I read e-books way more than paper book these days–and I have mixed feelings about it. I don’t want to prefer e-books, but right now they are the most convenient and accessible. I will never give up my paper books though.


April 16, 2013, 4:22 pm

Jennifer: Here too, I think it takes a good few books before you really know what you’re doing. So far I’m still liking it :)

Jenn: The Nook is really nice, a bit easier to hold, too, I imagine. After I finished the first book, I’ve not used it since, but I’ll be doing so in a phase again, like you.

Violet: PDFs are difficult. I thought it’d be fine, but because of the format I’ve found you can’t change font size on most, on the Kobo at least. It’s a pain! Ipads are good, but yes, the non-e-ink screen isn’t brilliant for constant reading. The Kindle Touch sounds a bit like the Kobo from what you’ve said. Touch screens still aren’t too great (that said Ipads are sensitive enough). For me the problem with the progress bar is it includes adverts at the end of books, otherwise it’s okay, kind of like GoodReads stats. I’d love to see a colour e-ink screen, best of both worlds.

Jo: That’s the thing with the newer devices, they invite distraction. Interesting to read about Australian titles, I’ll have to look into that.

Isi: Yes, it’s an okay function for most, I suppose, but where I’ve had a few different devices in the past I’m wary. Yes, I can see the dictionary function being really useful for that! A lot easier than finding it in a book.

Biblibio: Lots of files do slow it down, but at least that’s something that’s known about, rather than about the device itself. Though it wasn’t for me, I like the look of the Sony probably more than any of the others. Same here, ebooks won’t replace physical books, at least not whilst we still have physical books, but they’re a good addition.

Laurie: That’s weird, it surely should work with the WiFi. That’s the only thing with the colour products, they are big and do have a tendancy to be tablet-like – they might as well be tablets.

Alice: Indeed, and covers look so much nicer physically. Yes to your thought. I’ve thought that for a long time, though that said, would it make it look like ebooks were superior?

Tanya: I thought a while before getting one. To be honest if ARCs were all physical and classics easy to obtain I probably wouldn’t have got it.

Audra: It’s a pity Sony isn’t more popular, with a couple of additions it would’ve been a contender for me. Seeing Kobo at the London Book Fair, I think they’ll be around a while.

Judith: Me too, preference for paper. The Kindle app is nice, though it could do with a nicer user interface.

Jessica: The problem is with the rate at which they produce new products, as soon as you purchase one they’ll have another you would have prefered. I’ve got the Glo knowing it’ll be outdated within a few months. You might actually be better off waiting for a bit if your current Kindle’s still okay.

Chris: My story exactly.

Trish: That’s another situation to add to the list of things ereaders have enabled then :) A touch screen is useful, but only when it works.

Iris: That situation sounds annoying. Here the Kobo is championed by a particular shop, but I think it’s less involved with Kobo’s working than yours sound to be. Just seeing the differences between UK and US is hard on Amazon, so I know what you mean – and all the cheap books that aren’t, yes. PDF does work on Kobo, though not brilliantly. I think it might depend on how the publisher formats it, but whereas epubs and mobis have text sizes you can change, the pdfs don’t seem to. I’ve a pdf I had to convert to epub because the text was a tiny calligraphy font that was impossible to read.

Literary Feline: That’s the thing, they are very convient. If they take over completely that will be the reason (you’d think it would be cheapness, but it doesn’t look like that will happen…)



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